Archive for April 23rd, 2007

U.S. Copyright Report More Rhetoric Than Reality

My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, homepage version, Ottawa Citizen version) discusses this week's release of the USTR's Special 301 Report.  This year, it is a virtual certainty that Canada will receive special attention, with the U.S. claiming that the country has neglected to address critical issues and suggesting that it is rapidly emerging as a piracy haven.  I focus on three issues likely to generate criticism in the Special 301 report – the fact that Canada has not ratified the World Intellectual Property Organization's Internet treaties, extended the term of copyright by an additional 20 years, or introduced anti-camcording legislation designed to stem movie piracy.

Notwithstanding the pressure on Canada to act on these issues, even one-time U.S. supporters are beginning to admit that these policies are open to doubt. Last month, Bruce Lehman, who served as the Assistant Secretary of Commerce in the Clinton Administration where he was the chief architect of the WIPO Internet treaties, acknowledged that "our Clinton administration policies didn't work out very well."  Meanwhile, Marybeth Peters, the U.S. Registrar of Copyrights has noted that the U.S. extension of copyright was a "big mistake," and the President of the U.S. National Theater Owners Association has advised his members that notwithstanding the introduction of anti-camcording laws, unauthorized camcording in the U.S. is on the rise.

Not only are the policies suspect, but the USTR report should be seen for what it is – a biased analysis of Canadian law supported by a well-orchestrated lobby effort.  Since the mid-1990s, the USTR has placed intellectual property protection at the very top of its priority list.  As a result, dozens of countries have entered into trade agreements with the U.S. in which they undertake to implement U.S. style intellectual property protections. 

Canada has not faced similar trade pressures – the North American Free Trade Agreement pre-dates the shift in USTR priorities – yet it has not been spared intense U.S. lobbying.

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April 23, 2007 2 comments Columns

U.S. Copyright Report More Rhetoric Than Reality

Appeared in the Toronto Star on April 23, 2007 as We Mustn't Cave In To Copyright Bullying Appeared in the Ottawa Citizen on April 24, 2007 as U.S. Copyright Report Card More Rhetoric Than Reality This week the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the U.S. government department […]

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April 23, 2007 9 comments Columns Archive

Hill Times on the Broadcast Treaty

The Hill Times has a good article on Canadian lobbying over the proposed WIPO Broadcast Treaty.

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April 23, 2007 1 comment Must Reads

NY Times on Monetizing P2P

The New York Times looks at firms trying to develop ad-based P2P models, with news that Nettwerk is seeding songs with ads in P2P networks.

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April 23, 2007 Comments are Disabled Must Reads